Topic outline

    • Forest Society and Colonialism

      Q63. Why did land under cultivation increased during colonial rule?
      Why did the British increase the land for cultivation in India?
      What were the reasons for the expansion of cultivation in the colonial period?
      Why did the British increase the land for cultivation in India?
      State the reasons for the expansion of cultivation in the colonial period.
      How did cultivation expand during the colonial period?

      Ans. In the colonial period, cultivation expanded rapidly for a variety of reasons. 

      First, the British directly encouraged the production of commercial crops like jute, sugar, wheat and cotton. The demand for these crops increased in nineteenth-century Europe where food grains were needed to feed the growing urban population and raw materials were required for industrial production. 

      Second, in the early nineteenth century, the colonial state thought that forests were unproductive. They were considered to be wilderness that had to be brought under cultivation so that the land could yield agricultural products and revenue, and enhance the income of the state. 


      Q64. Explain three reforms introduced by Dietrich Brandis.

      Ans. The main reforms introduced by him were:

      1. Brandis set up the Indian Forest Service in 1864 and helped formulate the Indian Forest Act of 1865. 
      2. The Imperial Forest Research Institute was set up at Dehradun in 1906. The system they taught here was called scientific forestry. 
      3. In scientific forestry, natural forests which had lots of different types of trees were cut down. In their place, one type of tree was planted in straight rows. Forest officials surveyed the forests, estimated the area under different types of trees, and made working plans for forest management. They planned how much of the plantation area to cut every year. The area cut was then to be replanted so that it was ready to be cut again in some years.


      Q65. What new developments have occurred in forestry in Asia and Africa in recent times?
      Describe the new developments in forestry since the 1980s.

      Ans. New Developments in Forestry

      1. Since the 1980s, governments across Asia and Africa have begun to see that scientific forestry and the policy of keeping forest communities away from forests has resulted in many conflicts. 
      2. Conservation of forests rather than collecting timber has become a more important goal. The government has recognised that in order to meet this goal, the people who live near the forests must be involved. 
      3. In many cases, across India, from Mizoram to Kerala, dense forests have survived only because villages protected them in sacred groves known as sarnas, devarakudu, kan, rai, etc. 
      4. Some villages have been patrolling their own forests, with each household taking it in turns, instead of leaving it to the forest guards.


      Q66. ‘The new forest laws changed the lives of forest dwellers. They could not hunt.’ How?
      How did the new forest laws change the lives of forest dwellers?
      How did the forest rules affect hunting in India?

      Ans. The new forest laws changed the lives of forest dwellers in yet another way. Before the forest laws, many people who lived in or near forests had survived by hunting deer, partridges and a variety of small animals. This customary practice was prohibited by the forest laws. Those who were caught hunting were now punished for poaching.

      While the forest laws deprived people of their customary rights to hunt, hunting of big game became a sport. Under colonial rule the scale of hunting increased to such an extent that various species became almost extinct. The British saw large animals as signs of a wild, primitive and savage society. They believed that by killing dangerous animals the British would civilise India. They gave rewards for the killing of tigers, wolves and other large animals on the grounds that they posed a threat to cultivators.


      Q67. What are the similarities between colonial management of the forests in Bastar and in Java?

      Ans. Similarities between colonial management of the forests in Bastar and in Java are:

      1. Both British and Dutch wanted to exploit forest for timber to build ships.
      2. Both imposed lot of restrictions on the locals through various forest laws. The Dutch enacted forest laws in Java restricting villagers’ access to forests. Villagers were punished for grazing cattle in young stands, transporting wood without a permit, or travelling on forest roads with horse carts or cattle. In India, hunting and grazing were prohibited and the British government took over the forests giving no rights to the people to access forests resources. 
      3. Both introduced scientific forestry under which natural forests were cut down, and new species were planted, keeping in mind the needs of the industry.


      Q68. How did Forest Act affect the lives of foresters and villagers?
      Explain the impact of various forest laws and policies which were adopted by the colonial people.


      1. The Forest Act meant severe hardship for villagers across the country. After the Act, all their everyday practices cutting wood for their houses, grazing their cattle, collecting fruits and roots, hunting and fishing became illegal.
      2. The government ban shifting cultivation. As a result, many communities were forcibly displaced from their homes in the forests. Some had to change occupations, while some resisted through large and small rebellions.
      3. People of other villages were displaced without any notice or compensation.
      4. The British government gave many large European trading firms the sole right to trade in the forest products of particular areas. Grazing and hunting by local people were restricted. In the process, many pastoralist and nomadic communities lost their livelihoods.


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